30 Things to Do in Fukuoka Prefecture From the Standards to Hidden Gems
If you take a side trip from central Japan you can make your way Fukuoka – the biggest city in the island of Kyushu, which is a land filled with lush nature and delicious food. Below are 30 spots that will make you truly experience the charms and wonder of Fukuoka Prefecture.
Kitakyushu is famous as one of the leading industrial areas in Japan. However, it is also an area with an exotic vibe, housing Kokura Castle and its castle town, as well as Moji Port and other structures that will give you a feel of the area’s history.
Visit Kokura Castle
Kokura Castle was built in 1602. After enduring fires and warfare, the current castle tower was reconstructed in 1959. This castle is primarily characterized by its adopting of the karazukuri style, wherein the 5th floor is bigger than the 4th floor. The karazukuri style is a design that is rarely seen. Even in Japan, you can only see it here at Kokura Castle. Another attraction of this castle is the stone wall that has remained intact since the time the castle was built. If you actually look at the stone wall, you will notice that the stones are not of the same size. This is because it adopts the nozura-zumi style, in which unprocessed natural stones are stacked as is, something that cannot be done without advanced technology. The stones are not perfectly attached and aligned, so the wall is made strong through the discharge of rainwater from the gaps between stones. You have to see it in person!
※The castle will be closed until March 31, 2019 (tentative) due to renovation works. You can still view the exterior when you come.
Walk Around the Retro Streets of Moji Port
Moji Port is dotted with retro buildings that were erected about a hundred years ago, including the Former Moji Customs Building that was built in 1912, the Moji Akarenga Place (Former Teikoku Brewery plant), Mojiko Station, the Former O.S.K. Line Building and the Former Moji Mitsui Club. JR Mojiko Station, which is still being used today, is an Important Cultural Property of Japan that was built in 1914. The station building is currently undergoing conservation and repair works (scheduled to be completed in March 2019), but it is still being used as a train station despite the construction. You can view dignified structures that came from the time the station was built, including the bronze wash basin in the toilet and the marble lavatory.
Admire the Wonderful Wisteria at Kawachi Wisteria Garden
Kawachi Wisteria Garden is a famous spot that has been listed as one of the 31 Most Beautiful Places in Japan by CNN. The almost magical tunnel of wisteria overhead is so thick you can barely see the sky through it. It is breathtakingly beautiful! The wisteria flowers come in different colors, with wonderful gradation from the white flowers, to light pink and dark pink, and then from light purple to dark purple. The wisteria flower season ends in spring, but you can still look at the gorgeous koyo (autumn foliage) inside the garden in the fall.
View the Nightscape at Sarakurayama
You can enjoy a panoramic view of the townscape and the industrial zone along the coast from the summit of Sarakurayama (Mt. Sarakura), which is at a height 622m above sea level. There is an observation deck at the peak with an observation room inside. You can get to the summit via cable car and slope car, and the panoramic view can be quite romantic when seen from inside the glassed-covered car. On sunny days, you can apparently see all the way to the Kanmon Bridge/Shimonoseki area (the place where the islands of Kyushu and Honshu (Japan's main island) are the closest).
Check Out Kyushu Railway History Museum
Kyushu Railway History Museum showcases actual passenger cars that were used during the Meiji period (1868 – 1912), as well as a driving simulator that will let you experience driving a train between Moji Port and Orio while viewing the actual scenery along the line. Outside the museum, you will see displays of trains and a mini railway that runs through the park. This is a spot that adults and children will surely enjoy together.
Chikuho is a nature-rich area that is a bit removed from the city center. You will feel the natural atmosphere of Japan as this area has not been turned into a sightseeing place, so you can relax in peace. There are trains and buses that you can take, but the most convenient way to reach this area is by rental car.
Enjoy Nature at Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls is a waterfall with a 25m drop at the Agano Ravine inside Kitakyushu Quasi-National Park. Located about 10 minutes from the trailhead, this spot is packed with visitors with families in search of a cool breeze during summer. If you get off at Akaike Station and then ride a cab or rent a car, you will reach the trailhead in about 10 minutes.
Enjoy Nature at Shiraito Falls
Go to Ganjaku Castle
Ganjaku Castle was built in 1158, and of the parts of the castle that were dismantled, only the castle tower (top part of the castle) was restored in 1991. There is a museum inside where you can see yoroi (armor). The castle was actually built at the summit of Mt. Ganjaku with an elevation of 454m, which is the same place where the restored castle can be found today.
The city of Fukuoka is the most visited place in Kyushu, owing to the large number of major shopping spots and restaurants that you can find here. While it is a metropolitan city, the appeal of Fukuoka is that is lets you get to nature-rich Itoshima and outlying islands in such a short amount of time. It has been developed as a tourist destination, so even those who are first-timers in Kyushu need not worry about finding things to do.
Go on a River Cruise in Hakata
The Hakata district is full of many restaurants serving delicious food. Yatai (food stalls) line the riverfront at night, with the silhouette of the vibrant town reflected on the surface of the water. How about looking at the townscape of Hakata from a boat? If you go on this river cruise, you will get to enjoy the thrill of passing under low bridges, as well as see the shopping mall called CANAL CITY Hakata. The hustle and bustle of the city will slowly fade away and you will see the lights of the business district from Hakata Bay in silence. This 30-minute cruise returns back to the same place where it starts, making it a good option to refresh your spirit with the river breeze in between walking around the area or after a meal.
Go on a River Cruise in Hakata
Eat Hakata Ramen at a Food Stall in Nakasu
The yatai open from 6:00 – 7:00 pm in Nakasu. With about 10 stands selling ramen, yakitori (pieces of chicken grilled on a skewer), oden (ingredients simmered in broth) and other dishes lined up, this place is crowded with people who come to eat while drinking alcoholic beverages. Hakata ramen is characterized by its tonkotsu soup (thick soup made from pork bones) and thin noodles. The thick and flavorful soup and the extremely fine, straight noodles are a perfect match!
Eat Hakata Ramen at a Food Stall in Nakasu
The Hakata Dontaku is a Must-See!
Held every May 3rd and 4th, Hakata Dontaku is a festival that is usually attended by more than 2 million people! The roads are closed during the two-day run of the festival, and various groups parade around while dancing on the streets. The parade mainly goes through Meiji-dori, with the goal set at the square at City Hall that serves as the main venue of the festival. You can freely see the parade on the road during that time. There are many dancers and spectators, so make sure to feel the passion and excitement from the front row if you can!
Shop in Tenjin – Kyushu’s Premiere Shopping District
Tenjin is a popular town for young people, and there are plenty of shops here where you can enjoy shopping! When it comes to shopping malls alone, there are Tenjin Chikagai (Tenjin Underground Shopping Mall), Fukuoka PARCO, Solaria Plaza, Solaria Stage, Tenjin Core, and more – too many to list! Aside from fashion stores, the stationery and miscellaneous goods store Tenjin Loft, as well as BIC Camera and other electronic shops are also popular in this area. Fancy cafes and variety stores are scattered all around, so you can shop while enjoying a stroll around the area.
Buy Souvenirs at CANAL CITY Hakata
CANAL CITY Hakata is a huge shopping mall that people of all ages are sure to enjoy. If you get tired from shopping, you can watch a movie in the cinemas, or head to the Ramen Stadium where you can try different kinds of ramen from all over Japan. If you are looking for souvenirs at Canal City, then you might want to check out the Hakata Gift Shop that offers a wide selection of Hakata souvenirs. It also sells ramen, so it ought to be fun to try making ramen at home the way ramen chefs do. Snacks using mentaiko (seasoned pollack roe) are so spicy and delicious that you won’t be able to stop once you take a bite! Memories of your trip to Hakata will surely come flooding back to you if you eat some souvenirs after returning home.
Worship at Dazaifu Tenmangu
Built about 1,100 years ago, Dazaifu Tenmangu is a shrine that is dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, a politician and poet who was demoted after his defeat in a political battle and exiled to Dazaifu. The plum tree on the right side facing the Honden (main shrine) building is called the Tobi-ume (flying plum tree). Legend has it that when Michizane was demoted, he lamented that he wanted to smell the scent of the plum tree in his own house even while he was in Dazaifu, and then this plum tree flew over to him. Of the 6,000 plum trees inside the shrine precincts, this tree is the first to bloom each year. Michizane is famous as the god of learning, since he had a superb ability to learn, and these days a lot of students who are about to take exams come to this shrine to buy talismans for good luck. After visiting the shrine, how about dropping by Starbucks Dazaifu Tenmangu Omotesando Branch to marvel at its distinctive wooden design?
Watch the Sunset at the Shiomi Observatory in Shikanoshima
Shikanoshima Island is the gateway to Hakata Bay, and since it is connected to the mainland by a sandbar, you can easily reach it either by bus or by boat. If you rent a car, you can go as far as the parking area of Shiomi Park. When you look from the Shiomi Observatory inside Shiomi Park, you will get to see a view of the Genkai Sea, Hakata Bay, and the sandbank in the middle of the sea, with the buildings of Fukuoka visible on the opposite shore.
Watch the Open Ocean Aquarium Show at Marine World Uminonakamichi
This aquarium features a show called “Sardine Typhoon” in which a slew of sardines with a diver in the middle would swirl in the water of an open ocean tank. If the diver does not keep his position, then the spherical shape created by the fish will not be sustained, so this show is made possible only through the advanced skills possessed by the divers. Another show that you must watch is "Diver Watching," wherein a diver holding a camera goes near a shark to take photos of the creature, and you can see the images on a massive screen. You catch a view with only the diver visible by going outside the tank area.
Visit Kushida Shrine
Kushida Shrine has a history spanning more than 1,250 years and is a shrine well-loved by the locals in Hakata. It is famous for the presentation of kazari-yamakasa (decorated floats) during the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival in Hakata, and the items displayed at the Hakata History Museum inside the shrine precincts can be viewed throughout the year. The floats are enormous at 10m to 15m long, and they are elaborately designed. Try the water from the Reisen Tsuru well located inside the shrine grounds as it is said to give long life if you drink it. The water may be a bit salty, so be careful not to drink too much.
Observe Hakata Gion Yamakasa
Registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, Hakata Gion Yamakasa is a festival that is held for 15 days starting on July 1st each year. Floats called kaki-yamagasa (float to be carried) weigh about 1 ton and are carried by the 1 thousand men that take part in the festival. You can see such events from the streets starting July 10th, but the biggest highlight of the festival is the oi-yamagasa (float race) that is held from before dawn on July 15th. It is a thrilling event in which men carrying floats on their shoulders run a distance of 5km while competing for the best time.
Admire the Beautiful Garden of Komyozenji Temple
Komyozenji is famous as a mossy temple, home to the Bukko-sekitei garden, wherein the character for “light” is formed using pebbles, and the Itteki-kaitei (Drop of Ocean Garden), wherein the land and islands are represented by green moss and the ocean is represented by white sand. If you look at Itteki-kaitei from the Hondo (main temple building), you will see that the river flowing from the mountain transforms into what looks like an ocean. The best time to view the autumn foliage at this spot is from mid- to late November.
Visit Nokonoshima in Spring
Nokonoshima is an island with a circumference of about 12 km that floats in Hakata Bay. The biggest attractions of this island are the flowers that change every season at Nokonoshima Island Park. The park is particularly overflowing with vibrant and colorful flowers in the springtime, with flowers such as rapeseed, cherry blossoms, Livingstone daisies, poppies, azaleas and marigolds! See the stunning view of the sea, the sky, and the flower garden. You can also relax and feel the sea breeze on the ferry to Nokonoshima.
Pay Respect at Chikuzen no Kuni Ichinomiya Sumiyoshi Shrine
Chikuzen no Kuni Ichinomiya Sumiyoshi Shrine is a shrine with a history exceeding 1,800 years. Although it is just about a 10-minute walk from the bustling Hakata Station, the abundant greenery inside the grounds turns this place into a pleasant and relaxing space. Many people apparently feel their souls unloaded and refreshed by walking in the vast shrine precincts, probably because this place enshrines the deity that protects people from disaster by purifying their minds and bodies. Out of all the o-mamori (protection charms or amulets) sold at the shrine office, the Hoshi-mamori (star amulet) is quite interesting. Apparently, it is a popular choice for artists and entertainers that wish to achieve major stardom.
Climb Hakata Port Tower – The Symbol of Hakata
Hakata Port Tower is the iconic symbol of Hakata Port. As a control tower for ships, this tower is tasked to relay the movement of ships entering and leaving Hakata Bay to other ships in the area. A must-see spot is the observation deck at a height of 70m above the ground. From here, you can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic night view of Hakata town for free! During the day, you can also watch jumbo ships enter and depart from Hakata port. The red steel tower shines bright against the blue sky and sea, creating a stunning image from the ground as well.
Take a Walk in Ohori Park
Occupying a total area of around 398,000 sq.m., Ohori Park is a vast park with a pond that is about 226,000 sq.m. in area. The photo shows the Ukimido (floating temple hall) on Yanagi Island, one of the small islands at the center of the pond. There are various kinds of boats that you can ride on, including a rare boat called an Amenbo (water strider) Boat! With the Amenbo, you will get on top of a vehicle with two yellow, elongated banana-shaped floating devices and then move by pedaling like you would on a bicycle. Exploring the pond while riding an Amenbo in the water on a clear day is truly a one-of-a-kind experience! Boats that can seat two people are also available.
Mentaiko are egg sacs from Alaskan Pollack that have been pickled in salt and seasoned with togarashi (chili pepper). This delicacy is usually eaten by dividing the eggs into several portions and then putting the eggs on top of white rice. In addition to eating the mentaiko as-is, you can also mix it with with pasta to make Mentaiko Pasta. You have to try this dish when you are in Hakata! There are also many mentaiko-flavored snacks in Hakata that you can buy. Mentaiko is a local specialty of Hakata, so of course it is perfect for souvenirs!
Visit Kyushu National Museum
Kyushu National Museum is characterized by its Cultural Exchange Exhibition Gallery. Kyushu is geographically close to China and South Korea, so it has been connecting continental Asia with Japan since ancient times. There are around 800 cultural assets based on the theme of history of cultural exchange with Asia that you can appreciate at all times, and there are special limited-time exhibits as well. This museum is near Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, so many people visit that during the same trip.
It may be called Itoshima ("Ito Island"), but this is actually a peninsula that is adjacent to Fukuoka City. While this peninsula is easily accessible, taking around 40 minutes by train from Hakata Station at the heart of Fukuoka City to Itoshima City's Chikuzen-Maebaru Station, it is still a place that is known for its abundant nature, including the mountain and sea. The vegetables here are also delicious, and even in Tokyo you will notice that they sell vegetables advertised as being from this area. Itoshima is also seeing a rise in fancy cafes in recent years, so you can savor plenty of Itoshima vegetables for lunch in a spot near where they were grown.
Take a Souvenir Photo of the Couple Rock at Sakurai Futamigaura
There is a pure white torii (Shinto arched gate) floating in the emerald green sea, and about 150m to the back of that gate, you will see a couple of rocks that look like a married couple. The contrast between the color of the sea and the white torii gate is so beautiful that you are bound to capture a wonderful photo from whatever angle you can take a shot. This has long been a sacred place as a land owned by Sakurai Shrine, and during low spring tide season in May each year, when you can walk to the Couple Rock, they hold a ritual of putting a 1 ton shimenawa (sacred rope to cordon off sacred areas or talismans) on the rocks.
Chikugo is a nature-rich countryside area. Here, the temperature changes between day and night, and fog easily appears, which gives it the kind of soil that is suitable for growing tea.
Cruise Downstream at Yanagawa
Try an hour-long boating trip that will take you under low bridges and through narrow waterways while marveling at the willow trees along the river and the white walls that will take you back in time. This is an artificial moat that was built around 400 years ago, so the flow of water is quite gentle. Depending on the boatman, some boatmen would even sing a song or talk about history. There are several companies offering river cruises, as can be seen from the homepage. Choose what cruise to take after comparing the loading points and prices. For lunch, try the seiro-mushi unagi, a dish in which unagi (conger eel) and rice are steamed on a bamboo steamer using sweet soy sauce from Kyushu. You will find many restaurants serving seiro-mushi on the road from the station to the cruise point.
Visit Ukiha Inari Shrine
The Ukiha Inari Shrine in Ukiha City is a shrine whose Honden (main shrine) is located at an elevation of around 130m, and where there are roughly 90 red torii gates lined up to the Honden, something that is rarely seen in shrines. It is difficult to go up the roughly 300 steps, but if you manage to climb and you look back, you will get a glimpse of such a mystical scene wherein the torii gates that you passed have formed an overlapping series of gates. You can also get close to the Honden in a car by going through the service road, so those who are unsure about climbing the steps should take this route. In the spring, this spot is a famous place to view sakura (cherry blossoms). Ukiha City is popular for pottery called Ichinose-yaki, and the Toki Matsuri (Ceramic Festival), in which you can buy some of the potter for yourself, is put on 6 local potters in early May and early November each year. It could be fun to drop by on your way back from the shrine.
Buy Yamecha for Souvenir
Fukuoka is famous for tea, but out of all the teas that the region has to offer, the Yamecha brand is known for its sweetness and deliciousness. When you take a sip, the sweetness of the tea will spread in your mouth first, followed by the refreshing and delicious depth. You can purchase Yamecha in supermarkets in Fukuoka Pref. and at the airport, but since you are already there, then how about visiting a tea shop in Yame City? There are many stores that offer free tastings, so you can buy the tea that you like the best. It is also interesting to watch the careful way in which tea stores brew the tea.
Buy Yamecha for Souvenir
Enjoy the Chikugo River Fireworks Display
The Chikugo River Fireworks Display began in the year 1650 to commemorate the completion of Suitengu Shrine in Kurume. It is the biggest fireworks festival in Western Japan, with about 18,000 fireworks launched to the sky at the same time from two places. The fireworks are launched along the river, at a spot that is a 10-minute walk from Nishitetsu Kurume Station, so you can go to the viewing area and watch for free. With such fireworks as the Niagara that falls to the surface of the river like a waterfall, and the Shakudama that opens up in the night sky, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the fireworks and the 1.5 hours of the show will fly by like a flash.
Fukuoka is a place that is packed with delicious food and various sightseeing spots that can be easily reached from the airport. Use this article as a reference and check it out!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
- Follow WOW! JAPAN
- Can't find it in a guidebook? Looking through this app will definitely make you want to go to Japan.
Sightseeing information to make you say "Wow!", updated every day!
Behaviors and Manners You Should Know If You Come to Japan
30 Things to Do in Fukuoka Prefecture From the Standards to Hidden Gems
[Video]Things You Shouldn’t Do In Japan
Now this is winter in Japan! 5 Beautiful Snow Scenes in Kyoto
7 Spectacular Winter Views in Japan You Don’t Want To Miss
Packed with the Charms of the Working Class! BEST 3 Veteran Gourmet Shops in Asakusa
Five Scenic Spots in Kansai to Visit in the Winter
5 Outlet Malls in Osaka You Must See
5 Recommended Restaurants in Osaka with Huge Portions
5 Popular Pancake Shops in Harajuku and Omotesando